Is Jeff Bezos the most important person at Amazon? Of course he is--except that Amazon apparently tells its new employees the exact opposite. 

"Jeff sees himself as the least important person in the company," a former Amazon seasonal worker wrote in The Guardian, quoting a manager who was repeating what Amazon confirms it commonly tells new associates. "Jeff sees you at the very top. You, the associates, are the closest to the customers."

In fact, an Amazon spokesperson told me, Amazon uses an inverted "servant leadership pyramid" to suggest to new employees that they are most important, and that the company's founder and CEO is at the bottom.

It "highlight[s] the company's mission to be the world's most customer-centric" organization, among other values, the spokesperson told me in an email. 

It's a nice, warm sentiment--but nobody believes it of course, from the apparently disgruntled temporary employee who first wrote about it, to the analysts and investors watching every move Bezos has made for the last two decades-plus.

Who else would you even put in the same category as Bezos when it comes to key man risk? Granted, he has two putative deputies--Andy Jassy and Jeff Wilke.

But as Brad Stone, author of the bestselling book The Everything Store, put it on a recent episode of the Behind the Idea podcast, one of the key long-term questions about Amazon is simply: Without Jeff Bezos, could Amazon even continue to be Amazon?

"Does this work without Jeff?" Stone asked. "Without a guy who's uniquely suited to run both a retail company, and an online marketplace, and a technology invention lab, and an enterprise web services company?" "I don't know the answer to it. We just don't know."

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Here's what else I'm reading today:

The SEC doesn't like this idea of a tech stock exchange

Silicon Valley leaders ike venture capitalist Marc Andreesen and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman think tech needs its own stock exchange--one that would encourage longer term thinking and avoid investor focus on quarterly earnings. But Securities and Exchange Commissioner Robert Jackson reportedly has held it up. The reason: concern that the exchange's rules could give founders and early investors too much power over later shareholders.
--Dave Michaels and Alexander Osipovich, The Wall Street Journal

A new, totally work-related reason to up your emoji game

Even before the labor market became so tight, recruiting job candidates through email was a glacially slow endeavor. And now? Good luck getting a response at all, especially if you're targeting Millennials. A slew of new startups promise they have a solution: recruiting via text message. The big idea is to make the initial back-and-forth with job seekers less formal and more instantaneous. Cue the hilarious--and inappropriate--auto-correct errors.
--Jena McGregor, Washington Post

Why just endorse other companies brands if you can build your own?

That's the question LeBron James, Cindy Crawford, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lindsey Vonn  are poised to answer, after they teamed up to launch Ladder, a health and wellness company selling things like energy powder and maybe even snack foods. Of course, they have pretty demanding day jobs.
--Alexandra Bruell, The Wall Street Journal 

The tiniest and worst design decision Apple has ever made

It's been two years since Apple decided that the 3.5 mm headphone jack had to go. Then almost all of the major smartphone makers followed suit (LG and Samsung are still hanging on). Only one problem: no one really wanted this sleek, terribly inconvenient, cordless future. 
--Mark Wilson, Fast Company

At least there's this iPhone timesaving trick

A super-simple hack you didn't know you needed but won't be able to live without: pressing and holding your space bar turns the cursor into a mouse pointer. You're welcome.
--John Brandon, Inc.

Published on: Nov 28, 2018
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